UN warns Gaza relief operations could be sharply cut due to blockade

A United Nations agency warned Wednesday that relief operations could be significantly cut due to Israel’s blockade of fuel.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said immediate fuel shipments are needed to provide clean drinking water, ensure hospitals can remain open and to allow life-saving aid operations to continue.

While Israel has permitted some trucks filled with humanitarian aid to cross the border from Egypt into Gaza, the military is still barring the shipment of fuel. Thomas White, the director of UNRWA Affairs for Gaza, told CNN that the agency’s aid operation will need to be cut back if Israel continues to block the shipments.

White said they will be “making some decisions” about what and what not to provide fuel to on Thursday as the supplies run low.

“Do we provide fuel or desalination plants for drinking water? Can we provide fuel to hospitals?” he said. “Can we provide the essential fuel that is currently producing the bread that is feeding people in Gaza?”

“We really appeal that we need to find a solution to the fuel. Otherwise, our aid operation will stop,” White continued. “People will not have access to clean drinking water. Hospitals are going to be closing. And in fact, our whole aid operation will start winding down.”

Many officials, lawmakers and humanitarian aid groups have also expressed concerns about the conditions in Gaza after Israel prevented food, water, medical supplies, power and fuel from entering the region, which is largely controlled by Palestinian militant group Hamas, for the first weeks of the war. Some have said that a potential ground invasion from Israel into Gaza could worsen these conditions.

The lack of fuel comes as Israel has escalated its bombardments on the area. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have maintained that the air strikes were targeted toward Hamas hotspots.

The war started on Oct. 7 when Hamas militants launched a deadly, surprise attack on Israel, killing more than 1,400 Israelis. Most were civilians.

The Hamas-run Health Ministry said Wednesday that at least 6,546 Palestinians have also been killed and 17,439 others wounded in the subsequent attacks.

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